What is the Deal with Squeegees and Why Should I Care?
Squeegees are one of the most important parts of screen printing. Without a squeegee, you can’t screen print. They flood the screen, push or pull the ink, and help transfer the design from the stencil to the garment. Squeegee mechanics seem pretty simple, but there is actually a lot that goes into choosing the right one for you. Below is some helpful information that will put you on the right track to picking out the right squeegee.
Types of Squeegees:
There are many types of squeegees in the world, but screen printers usually stick to wood and aluminum squeegees. Here at Ryonet, we offer not only wooden squeegees, but also aluminum Ergo Force Squeegees and ROQ squeegees. While wooden squeegees are cheaper, aluminum squeegees are the most beneficial. In a wet screen printing environment, wood squeegees begin to warp. Aluminum squeegees do not warp in wet conditions, and they are easier for you to hold. They also allow you to apply more force while printing.
The Ergo Force is comfortable to hold, smooth and intuitive to print with, exerts pressure and cleans nicely. It is made from high tolerance machined aluminum with an anodized finish. A modular design allows the Ergo Force squeegee to be expanded in size. The squeegee blade holding mechanism allows for use of both sides of the squeegee blade and easy replacement. It comes in 4″, 6″, 8″, 10″, 12″, 14″, 16″, and 18″ forms.
ROQ squeegees feature a center hinge point with quick snap release. This not only enables you to easily swap out your squeegees, but also automatically levels the squeegee to the pallet and garment from the center hinge point. These squeegee holders make it easy to change out blades and clean them.
Squeegee Durometer Hardness:
Durometer relates to the hardness of the squeegee blade. Which durometer you need for your screen printing job relates to how detailed the print needs to be. A higher detailed print requires a higher mesh count, and therefore, requires a higher durometer squeegee. A lower detailed print requires a lower mesh count and it turn requires a lower durometer squeegee. The lower the durometer, the thicker the amount of ink is deposited. So, if you are working with a detailed print you will want less ink deposited, and therefore, will need to use a higher durometer squeegee.
Speed, Pressure, and Angle
The printing edge of the squeegee is one of the most important parts of the squeegee itself. That is what allows you to manipulate the ink. The speed and the pressure are also very important. You can change the effects of the screen printing when you change the pressure angle and speed.
Ryonet carries squeegees with four different durometer, and each durometer is a different color to help differentiate between them. You can find our squeegees here. The 60 durometer is orange in color and is the most flexible. The 70 durometer is yellow and is a little less flexible than the 60 durometer. It is the most commonly used squeegee, and it will work for most of your print jobs . The 80 durometer is blue and is the most rigid of the options. The 70/90/70 triple durometer is a rigid blade that is sandwiched between two softer blades.
Ryonet squeegees are formulated to achieve high solvent resistance and excellent abrasion resistance. The result is a squeegee blade that will better maintain its durometer when subjected to aggressive inks and solvents, show minimal swelling during the print run, and retain its sharp edge longer allowing for continued quality during the screen print run, thereby increasing productivity.
Storage and Maintenance of Your Squeegees:
Achieving the best screen printing performance and productivity is greatly dependent on the selection of the correct squeegee for the application and proper squeegee maintenance. When printing, monitor production time and rotate squeegees frequently. (The necessary rotation frequency is dependent on the ink / solvent system involved in the application) By doing so, you will achieve a more uniform print quality and increase the life of your squeegees. A squeegee should always be wiped clean and dry following removal from the press and stored in a dry environment at room temperature. The blade should be allowed to recover from the ink and solvent attack and rest for a period of 24 hours. It can then be placed back into production, or if necessary re-sharpened and placed back into production.
Polyurethane Squeegees should always be stored flat in a dry (50% Relative Humidity) environment at room temperature. (approximately 60-70 degrees F) Storage at temperatures below 60 degrees F may show an increase in durometer. This increase has no influence on the physical properties or the performance of the polyurethane. Under these storage conditions, the shelf life of the squeegee is approximately one year. Older squeegees often show increased printing performance.
Want to learn more about screen printing squeegees? Check out our blog “Squeegee Comparison: Ergo Force Handle vs. Wooden Handle.”
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